There is a small park next to the pizza joint Mrs. LIAYF, Lukas, and I visited the other night. It doesn't have playground equipment, and just a couple of bench's. It consists mainly of a small circle of grass big enough to run around in, surrounded by a couple of big rocks and a small concrete wall. The only real lure of the place that evening was that it was next to said pizza place and it could afford us a few moments to let Lukas burn off a bit more energy before taking him home to bed.
So, still full of tasty pie, we walked onto the lush green grass of the park, set our belongings down and engaged in a fun filled game of 'chase' with our son. I chased Lukas, who in turn chased his mother, who in turn chased both of us. Like much of our family playtime it was spontaneous and authentic, with the laughter of the moment ringing out in all directions.
We were so engaged in the moment that I hadn't even noticed that we were not alone at the park.
After a few minutes of fun we had announced to Lukas that it was time to go, and gathered up our belongings & walked towards the direction of our car. Then I heard something faint. A mumbling that I couldn't make out. Not realizing where it came from, I looked all around before finally fixing my eyes on a man sitting on a rock at the opposite end of the grass.
He was a fairly sad looking character who was sporting a shaggy beard, tattered clothes and a dirty baseball hat. As we made eye contact, he took a long drag off of a near fully smoked cigarette, then said something again. His voice was barely audible, and what came out was more than a bit raspy. Still I couldn't make out what he had said, so I veered off from my beautiful wife and son, who had continued on towards our car, to approach this man. I acknowledged him with my eyes and cupped my hand to my ear.
"What's that?" I said, not knowing quite what to expect in response. He managed a slightly louder "Cherish what you've got there" giving a wistful glance towards my family.
"Cherish what you've got there."
I smiled and followed his glance towards my family as I let those words soak in. He was obviously speaking from some form of experience, perhaps having had then somehow lost just such a sublime period in his own past. My mind wandered to some day in the far future when my son would be off doing his own thing and I would be the one envying young(ish) families laughing and playing with their children. Then, as I turned and glanced back towards him to carry on the conversation...
He had vanished.
Nah, just kidding. He was still there. Finishing off that cigarette. I paused, then merely gave him a nod of acknowledgement and an "Absolutely man".
Then I turned and rejoined the two most cherished things in my life, to start our evening routine.